Punk-rock has had a placeholder in the underground since 1990 thanks to Californian unsung heroes, …
HELLIONS w/Between You And Me, Dregg & Yours Truly
Maxx Watts, Melbourne
Saturday 11 May, 2019
Hysteria are of the mind that tonight’s event could easily have been bumped up to a bigger venue. But then again, that would take away from the intimate settings that were clearly thought of well ahead by the band. Tonight is a special event for Hellions and a crowd that are clearly dedicated enough to know that something was bound to give them a reason for selling it out in advance.
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Yours Truly kick off the evening’s proceedings with their clean cut take on new wave pop punk. The genre is stuffed to the brim but one catchy hook is enough to elevate a whole set. Lucky Yours Truly have a heap of them, ranging from Circles, High Hopes and Afterglow. The band have potential to skyrocket even further with frontwoman Mikaila Delgado’s sultry moves pairing with a voice that struggles to be contained in the Max Watt’s walls. Once they’ve cut their teeth in the UK, then we’ll see what potential Yours Truly can muster.
If any of the fans had come solely for the breezy highs of the openers, they would likely have had a heart attack with Dregg’s brand of madness. Serving as one of the most exciting hardcore acts Melbourne has seen in a long time, the no bullshit assault (aural and visual) is enough to warrant a full review on its own. Choreographed taking-the-piss punk jumps (one leg slightly outstretched and stomped again in unison) and Hyperbole’s madcap run are a joy to behold. Stepping through Return of the Dregg, and Exploring The Kardashians Through The Universe, singer Christopher Mackertich eggs on the pit with tongue in cheek. The bloke’s even made his own custom shorts for the occasion and the bass player’s learnt how to play in three months. They’re arguably the definition of what makes our scene so great: get on stage, do whatever the fuck you want and someone will fall in love with it. If Dregg don’t blow up due to the industry not knowing how to put them in a Spotify playlist, we’ve all failed them.
There seems to be a lack of sincerity with Between You And Me. There are a whole heap of the aforementioned punk jumps going on and the band are playing well enough. But the pop punk sound they have is hard to follow after Dregg has just shown what a breath of fresh air looks like. That being said, it’s hard not to get caught up in the unbridled fun of Dakota when it arrives at the end of the set. Singer Jake Wilson unexpectedly hurls himself into the pit–via a front flip no less–that adds the element of spontaneity lacking from their set previously.
In a bold effort, Hellions don’t open with the expected one-two of (Blueberry) Odyssey. Instead it’s the mournful Rue (and clear album tour marker) that sets the stage for guitarist/lyricist Matthew ‘Wob’ Gravolin’s final Melbourne performance. A smart choice by the Hellions boys though because it gives the crowd an opportunity to hear just how loud they can sound with its soaring ode to unity. We’re immediately given the aforementioned one-two and Odyssey kicks the energy up tenfold. Hellions have had hit and miss shows in the past few years but tonight is special. Having a sold out crowd doesn’t hurt but the quarter on stage are firing on all cylinders with the call and response and intertwined vocal patterns. Drummer Anthony Caruso is, as always, entirely on beat and tight as all hell. Has anyone ever seen the man make a mistake?
We’ve called Andre ‘Dre’ Faivre a ringleader before but tonight the crowd are more receptive than ever. When asked to drop and shimmy Thriller style for X (Mwah), they’re happy to acquiesce to his request. 25 and 24 run back to back and show just how far the band have come since the Die Young days. That being said, The Penultimate Year has the circle pit up and flying in full force. Ditto for the band’s “official TV theme song” Hellions that sees Dregg’s Mackertich take on Real Bad’s guest spot. Unsurprisingly he vibes with the song’s lyrical content and blasts the verse out with frenzied staccato rat a tats.
Of course a special mention must be given to Northlane’s Marcus Bridge arriving to guest for his verse on Nightliner Rhapsody and Dre’s eventual stage dive straight into the crowd. But with the clock running out and the set reaching its climax, an almost-teary Wob announces this is his final time on stage with the lads in his home town. Of course no one wants to let him down; the band have soundtracked misfits for over half a decade through life’s trials and tribulations and his lyrics are arguably the paramount reason for doing so. Case in point: the cathartic ode to dropping romantic deadweight Thresher is another unsurprising highlight. Having the crowd repeat the chorus acapella is always a special touch and Melbourne make sure that Wob knows how much they appreciate his lyrical capabilities.
Closing with Smile and a quick exit, Hellions face an uncertain future. But tonight they’ve given a fond farewell to a member that’s inextricably linked to everything they’ve achieved so far. Don’t think too hard about it their grins seem to say as they remove guitars and jump from the drum riser: just enjoy it for what it is … and try to smile for once.